Coronavirus: Remote office software crashes on first day of mass working from home

Side view of young businessman using computer while sitting at desk in home office
Millions are now expected to work from home due to the coronavirus (Getty)

Users of the popular Microsoft Teams remote-working software struggled to access the program on Monday as thousands switched to working from home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

It came as prime minister Boris Johnson urged people to start working from home “where they possibly can”. The government has predicted that up to a fifth of Britain’s workforce could be off sick at once due to coronavirus, and further workers could stay absent to avoid catching it.

Users in Europe complained of problems accessing the Microsoft Teams service on Monday, including with creating teams, recording meetings and screen-sharing.

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Similar to rivals such as Slack and Zoom, Teams is built to allow people to work remotely from any location.

Microsoft admitted that it was investigating “messaging-related functionality problems” with the software.

A spokesman said: “We’ve taken steps to address an issue that a subset of our customers may have experienced. Our engineering teams continue to actively monitor performance and usage trends.”

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British people need to stop non-essential social contact and avoid clubs, pubs, theatres and all unnecessary travel as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates towards the fast growth phase, Johnson said on Monday.

“Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel,” the PM said at a news conference in Downing Street.

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He added that anyone with symptoms of the coronavirus should isolate along with their entire household for 14 days.

Home working, he said, should begin in earnest.